Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Dangers of Alcohol

I have a friend who lives in a Muslim area of the world. Recently he posted something to his blog about the dangers of alcohol. He did it jokingly in reference to the man who was eaten by a bear at a beer fest. The comments to this post have been interesting. I have posted the entire string below. The names and places have been changed to protect the ones who may or may not be wrong or right. David is the author of the blog. Goliath is the other commenter. What say ye?

While there are many reasons that alcohol does not have a place on my menu (especially living in a Mslim country), still the biggest reasons tend to be practical. It’s just plain nice to know, as best you can, what is going on around you. If you don’t understand, maybe the article below can draw you a picture. (Bears Eat Man)

Comment #1 - So, David, are you against drinking alcohol or against drunkenness? Are you setting aside your rights to drinking, for the sake of the gospel (ala 1 Cor 8-10), or do you agree with your Muslim neighbors that there is inherent evil in drinking alcohol?
Also, being drunk is not the only reason one would jump into a bear cage. What about Anchorman Ron Burgundy? He jumped into the bear pit to save the woman with whom he used to have familiar relations.


Comment # 2 - Goliath, I have a difficult time knowing when I’ve had enough to eat, let alone worrying about my choice of beverage.
But, for clarification. I am against drunkenness, not necessarily alcohol. I haven’t been able to come to any other conculsion Biblically. And, yes, ala 1 Cor 8, I set my freedom aside for the sake of the gospel. The best I can understand from my Muslim friends is that the evil in drinking comes from drunkenness. If drunkenness is evil, it’s easiest to avoid drunkenness by avoiding alcohol altogether.

Also, it’s an obvious choice to leap to the bears over a woman. Anyone would do that. But, the issue is being able to have that choice.

Comment # 3 - I’d jump into the bear pit for the woman with whom I have familiar relations …probably.
Well, let me press the point a bit further then. You said you have a difficult time knowing when you’ve had too much to eat. So, do you not eat? I know I’m being antagonistic, here, but this is a hot-button issue in my church and it really bugs me. The statement, “If drunkenness is evil, it’s easiest to avoid drunkenness by avoiding alcohol altogether,” is exactly what many at my church say, and it smacks of legalism to me.
Where does that trail end? It just seems that to be consistent to this principle, you also need to say, “Sex can be done sinfully, so I abstain from sex. Also, there are sinful things on TV and in movies, so I abstain from those things. Watching sports can lead to gambling, so I abstain from sports too. And there are naughty magazines in gas stations, so I don’t go into gas stations…” It bugs me that Christians have picked out this one thing to be legalistic about.
Sorry, I took a mainly light-hearted post and made it all serious and stuff. What a jerk.


Comment # 4 - to my friend, the jerk,
Pt pressed. First the above quoted statement is from my Muslim friends, not from me. That said, it is only legalism when dictated to others. When it is a personal conviction, can’t it just be wisdom?
The trail … While I don’t disagree with you too much, I think your examples aren’t quite fair. Sex is needed (and enjoyed) within a God-centered, healthy marriage. Food is necessary for a healthy life. Alcohol is not necessary for anything but pleasure. If I’m watching sinful things on TV or in movies, wisdom says to avoid them. If I struggle with sports gambling, wisdom says to avoid sports. If I struggle with naughty magazines, and they are available in gas stations I frequent, wisdom says find another gas station or don’t go into them (pay at the pump?). Don’t these fit into the eye gauging / hand chopping admonition of Jesus?
OK. I agree that in dictating conviction where Scripture seems to give freedom, you are bringing legalism into the church. But, for an individual to abstain from something to avoid personal sin, shouldn’t that be encouraged?
I don’t think Christians everywhere have picked this issue. It seems to be an American church issue. Here, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. But, everyone knows if you find a liqour shop in X, it’s probably ‘christian’ owned. That’s a little embarrassing too.


What say ye?

8 comments:

Pastor Andy said...

Vince,

One of Dave Rudd's old College friends. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed the read. I thought that the original blogger had a a good point. We ought to encourage those individuals who refrain from the dangers and snares of sin, not attack them. To warn of dangers is not legalism is it?

The one commenter's logic was not altogether sound in my mind. I often hear people jump from drinking to food. That is not fair. The logic may be to junk food or sugar foods, or maybe trans fats but not food in general. We can drink many different things that are non-addictive and less dangerous for our bodies.

The Scriptures themselves seem to take the same approach as this article. They warn of the dangers of alcohol. However, they do not ban it.

I often wonder if those who get up in arms about the alcohol issue don't have too much vested interest in the issue somehow. I have no problem with a little wine for the stomach, but I don't get upset if someone warns of the dangers. I want to hear the warnings so I don't find myself drifting off into sin.

Goliath said...

This has been a very helpful discussion, even if as times it is frustrating.

Here was my most recent comment on David's blog:

"So, [David], the moral of your story seems to be: avoid unnecessary pleasures if you tend to struggle with them, in keeping with wisdom. That really is very helpful, and if you struggle with alcohol, or have alcoholism in your family (or minister in a Muslim country), I agree that it would be wise to abstain.

Of course, my issue was never with people who wish to abstain because of a history of difficulty with alcohol, or with people who decide, personally, to abstain for really any reason - I have nothing invested in people drinking or not, obviously. My issue is with the evangelical subculture rooted in the fundamentalist movement of the 19th and 20th century that rather arbitrarily decided that drinking, dancing, and cards were the things all evangelicals need to stay away from, and with the heirs of that movement who continue to press the issue.

Thanks for the good discussion, fellas. [Goliath's wife] and I praise God for your ministry. Vince, you're neat too.
"

So, Vince, how the heck did I end up being "Goliath" here? What, I'm the big tall loser of this debate now? I'm the uncircumcised Philistine?

rick said...

You confused me, I'm going to get a drink to clear my head ...

Vince said...

p.a. - i agree. i commented on the original blog using junk food as my example. i believe that is a more logical connection.

goliath - i do know for certain that you are tall and that you are probably not a philistine. everything else is appropriately unknown.

Goliath said...

Don't kid yourself. I remember Elizabeth Lake. I know you got a good look. Sicko.

Vince said...

yes, and that's why i said "appropriately unknown."

David said...

Philistine!

Goliath said...

PHILISTINE!

I guess that doesn't really work when you are a Philistine.